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The Healthiest Apple

Putting red delicious in its place.

September 6, 2010 |
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You may also remember how the USDA measured the antioxidant content of different varieties of apples. red delicious shot to #1, with granny smith in a surprise upset taking the #2 slot.
But people kept asking me What about Cortland? What about Empire, What about McIntosh? Everyone has their own favorite. Someone even asked me: What about crabapples? And all I could say was: I have no clue; that’s all in fact anyone could say, because they hadn’t been tested. Until now.
Twenty-one different varieties tested. I mean why bite into a red delicious when you can bite into good old 56-9-181 apple? There’s actually 7500 different types of apples, but let’s look at some crowd favorites. In alphabetical order: braeburn, Cortland, crabapples, empire, golden nugget, honeycrisp, and idared.
Here’s the graph, and… we have a new winner! In fact two new winners, putting red delicious in its place. We have a new loser too—less nutrition than even a Fuji!
Let’s start there. Which one’s the least nutritious apple? And the bad apple is… golden nugget.
What about #1? Mirror mirror on the wall, which is the healthiest of them all? Let’s take a bite out of the tree of knowledge. Crabapples!
Crabapples? Gross. What’s this one? What’s the healthiest apple you can actually buy? Five options left to choose from: braeburn, cortland, empire, honey crisp, or idared. Well… it’s not… McIntosh, … not empire, … not braeburn—oh, I love braeburn, and not… Cortland.
The healthiest apple apple, beating out red delicious is idared.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on fruit. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: The Best Foods: test your nutrition knowledge and Dr. Greger's Natural Nausea Remedy Recipe

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on fruit. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!


    Havebeen on vegan diet for a year. How do I know if I am having enough protein. I have not paid much attention to protein content of food.

  • blacksax4

    This is great. Easy way to choose a variety when shopping. Could you please do videos, or at least a list of the antioxidant levels in different varieties of oranges (or related fruits) like clementines, tangerines, tangelo, blood oranges etc? And tomatoes (plum, grape, cherry etc). And other foods where there are similar options. That would be wonderful. I love these videos so much.

  • RatDoctor

    Is there more antioxidants per apple or percent? I love Galas and Fujis but they’re about half the size of a Granny Smith (which I also love but can’t find organic around here)

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post The Best Foods: Test Your Nutrition Knowledge!

  • kathryn

    In the final ratings, did you mean to say “Honeycrisp” and not “McIntosh”?

  • lovestobevegan

    Apples rank #1 in the “dirty dozen: 12 foods to eat organic” so try to purchase organic.
    View the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce here:

  • tavit

    haha idared was my guess, because it’s sounds like “ideal red” :)

  • ersc

    Interesting, I’ve never seen an Idared in any stores or farmer’s markets, even in orchards. I’ll eat a red delicious now and then, although they’re by far the most hit-or-miss apple.

  • Sebastian Tristan

    My favorite is still Red Delicious. =)

  • Karel

    What about the Pendragon apple?
    Was it included in the study?